Monthly Archives: March 2014

Making an ebook the quick and dirty way

When it comes to writing, I’m a pretty visual person. Yes, I need to be able to see a scene, the setting, the characters, and the action in my head. But it’s more than that. I also need to set up my Word document to look as much like a book as I can, so that I can visualize the end result. I know approximately how many words my scene should be, and as the writing progresses down the page, I can start to see the shape of the scene—the dialogue, action, description, and pacing.

But what about when I’ve finished a manuscript and I want to see the shape of the whole story?

At this point I like to read it on my Kindle, to see if it hangs together (that’s a technical term!), so I make an ebook from my Word file. It’s easy and free.

Note: This is not the way to make a beautifully formatted ebook ready for sale on your website or Amazon. This is meant purely for your own use to get a new perspective on your story, or if you’re critiquing someone else’s manuscript.

Note for parents: This is also something you could do for children who write. Imagine how cool it would be for kids to see their story on an ereader and be able to share it that way with their family and friends!

To make an ebook from a Word file:

  1. Download and install Calibre.
  2. In Calibre, click the Add books button.
  3. In the Select books window, select your Word file (.docx format), and then click the Open button. Your Word file appears in Calibre in the center pane.
  4. In Calibre, click the Convert books button.
  5. In the Convert window, select the Output format from the drop-down (top right corner of the screen):
    • MOBI: For Kindles.
    • EPUB: For most other ereaders.
  6. Click the OK button. Calibre converts the Word file to an ebook format, which you’ll see in blue in the right pane when the conversion is finished.
  7. Once you have created the ebook, you can transfer it to the Kindle (by email or using the USB cable).

This covers just the very basics. There are obviously lots of things you can do to improve your ebook—such as adding a cover and table of contents, and changing the formatting—I’ll tell you about those things in another post.

If you have questions, ask me in the comments.

Procrastination – tip #2


Weirdly, and despite the fact that I am mysterious and unpredictable (just ask my family!), the list of things on my plate this week looks much like it did last week. I should be:

  1. Working on the draft of my next book.
  2. Critiquing another chapter for a friend and reading a completed manuscript for another friend.
  3. Buying and mailing a birthday present for my other nephew – sorry buddy, it’s going to be late!
  4. Doing my taxes – gah, still not done!
  5. Catching up on the latest episode of The Voice (no wait, that’s meant for another list!)

Instead, I went for a stroll in the sunshine with a friend and took lots of blurry photos of birds. This one I’m sharing is a red-winged blackbird. After a long stalemate, he agreed to let me take this one picture, so long as I hurried on my way afterwards.

Alright, alright, this week’s tip?

» Make a public commitment to your goals. Whether that’s a list of to-do’s on your blog/FB/Twitter, a note on your fridge door, or a sticky note on your computer monitor, write it down somewhere.

So tell me, did you try out Trello last week? What did you think? Or do you have another list-making app that’s better? Tell me, tell me.

Create a video book trailer – Contest!

My publisher is launching a cool new contest for kids (and big kids – there’s no age limit!). Here are the details…


At Sono Nis Press we’ve played around with creating short videos to introduce you to some of our authors and their newest books (check them out on our YouTube channel: Sono Nis Press). We know that way more talent exists outside our offices than inside, so we are throwing out a challenge:

Create a book trailer about any Sono Nis book for a chance to win great prizes!

All you have to do is:

  1. Create a video that in some way features a book published by Sono Nis Press.
  2. Upload it to YouTube.
  3. Send us an email: Indicate which category you have entered (Children’s Book, Poetry, or Other) and include the video link along with your full name, town, and email address.

We’ll add you to our contest playlist on YouTube so the whole world can enjoy your efforts. Finalists will be selected by votes from the public, so get ready to spread the word to your vast social networks. Good luck!

Entry deadline: All entries must be received by midnight, September 30, 2014.

**Please note: This contest is open only to people with a mailing address in the USA or Canada.**

Contest Categories and Prizes:

  • Children’s Book Trailer – Sono Nis Press website credit of $100 (Canadian dollars) for you and a matching credit of $100 for a school library of your choice. What a great way to stock up on new reading for you and a whole lot of kids!
  • Poetry Book Trailer – Sono Nis Press website credit of $100.00! Indulge your passion for poetry books or choose from any of our other quality titles.
  • Other Trailer – $100.00 website credit good for any Sono Nis Press titles you might not already own.

Sono Nis Press reserves the right not to post any entry deemed inappropriate for our family audience.


So that’s the contest! I can’t wait to see your videos!

Procrastination – tip #1

OK, I lied. There is no tip, just an admission:

Here I am writing a blog post when I should be:

  1. Working on the draft of my next book.
  2. Reading the first chapter of a friend’s new YA manuscript.
  3. Mailing my nephew’s long-overdue birthday present.
  4. Doing my taxes.
  5. All of the above…and more!

Instead, I offer you a selection of photos from our trip home from Saskatoon:

Alright, alright, you want a tip?

Try using Trello to keep track of all the things you should be doing.

Update: Nephew’s present mailed, chapter read, and some small progress on my book! Taxes – gah – that can wait until another day!